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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A national historic site is a designation that an area possesses national historical significance. It may confer protected area status on the site, but not necessarily. Such sites can range in size from small to complex, and may include physical evidence of the subject related to the history being commemorated. Designations are an acknowledgment that what happened in a particular place is worthy of remembrance by people of an entire nation, if not beyond, and sites are often conserved by national authorities.



Canada's program of designating and preserving national historic sites sprung from a desire to mark the Tricentennial of Quebec in 1908. The Historic Landmarks Association was formed in 1907 to help accomplish this, and its work continued until 1922, when it became the Canadian Historical Association. James B. Harkin, the first Commissioner of Dominion (National) Parks, had been a member of the Association, and been active in the creating the country's first National Historic ParkFort Howe, in St. John, New Brunswick, in 1914, followed by Fort Anne, Nova Scotia, in 1917.

Harkin recommended the creation of a board of recognized authorities on history, which would advise the Department of the Interior (under which the Parks Branch fell) on the preservation of sites of national historic significance. He successfully persuaded the federal government to establish the Advisory Board for Historic Site Preservation, which met in Ottawa for the first time on October 28, 1919.

Now called the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, it is a statutory advisory body to the Minister of the Environment and, through the Minister, to the government of Canada.

The Board, through the Minister, has created more than 900 National Historic Sites across the country since 1919. Of these, some 158 are operated by Parks Canada as part of the national park system.

A national historic site is often privately owned, and designation usually brings with it the erection of a federal plaque (see National Historic Sites of Canada). Many sites are open to the public, but there is no requirement that they be.

Parks Canada's historic sites were once called "National Historic Parks", to distinguish sites in the park system from those outside it. Those in the system are open to the public and offer historical interpretation, whereas other national historic sites may offer only a federal plaque. Eventually, the National Historic Parks were renamed National Historic Sites, regardless of whether they were managed by the park service or not. A National Historic Site may be as simple as an undeveloped area marked with a federal plaque, or as complex as the reconstruction of the Fortress of Louisbourg.

Apart from sites, the Historic Sites and Monuments Board recommends Events and Persons of national historic significance. These, too, are eligible for a federal plaque, and the national historic sites branch of Parks Canada is responsible for the entire national plaque program. All such designations are made by the Minister of the Environment on the advice of the Board, which seeks public consultation and suggestions.


The Herodian-era Enclosure of the Cave of the Patriarchs

The Israeli list of National Heritage Sites includes, the Cave of the Patriarchs, [1] [2]

United States

In the U.S., there are several kinds of Federal designations of historic sites. Those known as National Historic Sites are Federally owned and administered. Some other Federally administered sites are National Historical Parks. There are also about 79,000+ National Register of Historic Places sites, which usually are privately owned, of which about 2400 have further been designated as National Historic Landmark sites.

The proper noun term "National Historic Site" refers to federally staffed properties, usually federally owned. There are currently about 86 of them.

In 1937, The first National Historic Site was created in Salem, Massachusetts in order to preserve and interpret the maritime history of New England and the United States. Salem, Massachusetts was once one of the most important ports in the nation. The historic buildings, wharves, and reconstructed tall ship at Salem Maritime tell the stories of the sailors, Revolutionary War Privateers, and merchants who brought the riches of the Far East to America.[1]The National Historic Site encompasses about 9.5 acres at the center of what was once the main waterfront section of the city. [2]

The principal resources include three original historic wharves -- Derby, Hatch's, and Central -- extending into Salem Harbor and a row of historic government, residential, and commercial structures, including the U.S. Custom House, elegant homes of sea captains and merchants, and the more ordinary homes of craftsmen. The wharves are among the rarest remaining intact from America's age of sails almost 200 years ago. The site also includes a replica of the tall ship Friendship, as well as a Visitor Center in downtown Salem. Tours of the tall ship Friendship are available. [3]

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